Destination weddings themselves can be a sticky situation. Who do I invite? Do I have to pay for guest accommodations? Do I hold the reception at the destination? Do I need to keep my guests entertained every day they are there? As always, a lot depends on the couple and the family involved. Always do what works best for you. Here are some general guidelines.
I am only inviting family and close friends to my destination wedding. Can I invite people who didn’t make the list to my shower?
If you are only inviting a small amount of people to the wedding then this is perfectly acceptable. However, if you are inviting some coworkers and not others to the wedding, it is not appropriate to invite the ones who didn’t make the wedding guest list to the shower. The exception to this is if you are holding a post honeymoon affair for everyone at home. Then it is fine to just let people know about this and invite everyone to the shower. People are expected to bring gifts to a shower so it would look greedy otherwise to invite them to the shower and not have them make the cut for the wedding.
How far in advance do I need to send invitations?
It is usually best to send a save the date to everyone you intend to invite as soon as possible. You want to make sure your basic planning such as location and date are finalized and booked so the information doesn’t change. As a general rule, you want everyone aware of at least these main details 4 to 6 months before the wedding.
Do I need to pay for all my guests’ accommodations?
Guests at a wedding are expected to pay for their own transportation and accommodations even when there are the added expenses that go hand in hand with a destination wedding. The only thing the couple (or their parents) is expected to fund is the reception and the wedding. It is traditional for the couple to pay for the accommodations and travel of their attendants as they would for a wedding in their hometown. This is flexible; however, as long as it is all decided and made clear in advance.
If you have guests on your list you are sure cannot afford the trip it is best to help them with the cost. This can be done discreetly and there will be no need to help other guests. Another option is to not invite those guests and to instead send a wedding announcement after the fact. You can also have a reception at home when everyone returns from the wedding and honeymoon.
Do I need to plan entertainment for every night of the trip for all my guests?
Guests are responsible for their own amusement during a destination wedding. It is a good idea to host a get together on the first day of the trip for everyone to get acquainted. This, along with the wedding, rehearsal dinner and the reception, is the extent of your obligation. Most guests will appreciate the time to breathe and be by themselves or with their families. If you have a wedding website you can keep it stocked with information on area attractions and activities. You can also have welcome bags made available to your guests with pamphlets about such things and maybe a few coupons included.
Is it still appropriate to register for gifts if I am having a destination wedding?
You can always register for gifts. You can never expect them. This means you never include the registry information in your invitations. You can feature it on your wedding website if you have one or have your wishes spread through word of mouth. Having a pre-wedding party at home can help cut down on the gifts your guests need to transport to the wedding (and what you have to bring back!). You can also have someone spread the word to only bring things like cards and cash to the wedding and to have other gifts sent to the couple’s home either before or after the wedding. If you have already set up house and really don’t need the gifts, consider asking guests to make a donation to your favorite charity.